Wednesday, October 7, 2020

September Update: Incredible Progress

I've tried to sit down and write this blog a few times so far this month, but I just wasn't feeling it. Not that I don't have plenty to report or anything. I just haven't been in a blogging mood.

But, I need to get it done, because we're a week into October now.

So, first up, I finally finished my old Cafe story, got it edited, and posted it to the Cafe. That was my biggest accomplishment for the month, and boy did it feel good. Now I feel like I have finally closed the "book" on the Cafe, so to speak. I know I didn't owe it to anyone, but I felt I owed it to myself and my project of eight years. Plus, I really wanted to get that third story of the Witch's Daughter series finished up. I even brainstormed some ideas for the next story! Maybe I'll write another one next year and, I don't know, post them on this website or something. Or at least link them. I guess I probably can't put any more stories on the Cafe, since we're closed. But anyway. That's a future Sara problem. I'm not in any hurry to write the next one. It's just nice to know what comes next, if I ever decide I want to revisit that world. I've often thought it might make a good novel, although for now, I like that it's just stories from her life rather than a cohesive book.

Also, I've started tracking how many words I write each month that are actual story words rather than brainstorming notes. I'm still counting brainstorming notes in my overall totals, but I was curious how much forward motion I was actually making. And I wrote almost 11k words last month! That includes finishing up my Superhero Shane story, finishing up my Witch's Daughter story, and getting a good chunk of words written on the next Sally Prescott story.

So yeah, I had a really great month. I think Rachel did, too. She broke 35k last night, so she's finally over halfway.

This month, I want to keep poking at SP. I haven't been in much of a writing mood, but I've been trying to at least read over it and put a few paragraphs on it when Rachel and I meet. It's slow going, but progress is progress.

I also wrote out some notes for a romance novel I may write someday. But that was this month, not last month. And while it's a few thousand words, it doesn't count toward new content. So, I'm hopeful I can keep up my writing momentum this month. Or get back into it. I'm not sure I'll finish SP or not, but I'm going to try. That's my main goal.

But, if I honestly can't get back into it, I may poke at other projects, see if anything else captures my imagination. I've got Chain Letter Choice, Nightmare of Sleepy Shoals, and Once We Were Witches that are all floating around in the back of my mind. There's also the second Druid Wars book, but I'm fairly convinced that'll be a next-year project. I only have maybe one, one and a half solid writing months left this year, so I'd rather use my energies to add to things I've already started rather than start something completely new.

If nothing else compels me to write, I may just shift back to editing. I have plenty of things to edit, so that might be a better use of my time if I can produce words. I'm just not sure I'm ready to dive back into MystWatch yet. I want to really miss it before I go back, so I have plenty of enthusiasm to do the things I need to do with book 2 and with the Shane story. Book 3 is still very much a back burner, project for the future right now. Hopefully my siblings will understand. It's taken me this long to get back into writing after swearing it off utterly last year. It's still a delicate flame that I'm guarding as protectively as I can, doing my best to nurture it without snuffing it out. Once it's back to a well-established fire, I will share with others that I'm back at it. If I get there. But now, I'm still staying quiet about writing and treating it with as much awe and delicacy as I can.

Which means I am not planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year. It will be the first time in 15 years I haven't at least attempted it. I do plan on trying to write through November, with Rachel like we have been, but I will not be using the NaNo website to do any tracking, nor attend any of the events. I don't even plan on logging into the website. I left them some fairly scathing feedback, expressing my disappointment at their change in direction, and told them I had no plans of returning. I feel like this year, the best thing I can do is keep that promise by not giving them any site traffic. I may feel differently next year, but this year, NaNo does not exist for me. It is dead. A part of my past I want to move on from. Which is a complicated mess of feelings, but mostly I'm looking forward to a November that I write on my own terms without being harassed by emails from HQ or MLs or newbie writers or writers that steal my creative energies. Like I said. Delicate flame. None of that will feed it, only work to extinguish it.

Anyway. I have three weeks left this month to make some writing progress. Hopefully I can wrap up with SP adventure, since I had originally hoped to write two a year so I could eventually start putting them out. But, as long as I get one finished this year, I'll be happy. I'm writing them mostly for myself right now, anyway.

That pretty much wraps up this update. Apparently I did have a blog post in me after all.

Friday, September 4, 2020

August Update: Better late than never!

I called myself out last post about how I should do these blogs when I'm thinking of it rather than waiting. I thought about doing it Friday the 28th but decided to wait for Monday the 31, but...I should have known better. It was mom's death day, and I ended up not even getting on the computer at all.

I really might just go back to doing these at the beginning of the month rather than the end. Mostly because I never know how the month is going to shake out until that last day, and sometimes, that last day has me staying up late to finish up projects.

In this case, I'm glad I waited. Because last night, I finished up the Mystwatch Shane short story I've been trying to write for years. I'm not completely in love with how I got to the end, so it may change, but at least I can say I have a complete zero draft. Can't edit something I haven't written yet.

So that's my big accomplishment since I started working on it again on August 27th. The last time I'd added words was back in February. It feels good to have it done. It's about four thousand words more than I intended (the Makai short is only 3k and this is just over 7k), but I think it needed to be. The Makai one was more just to get a glimpse of what goes on in his head and some backstory on how he got his scar (and what his relationship to Lindsay was). Shane's story is actually a cohesive story, where Shane goes out and does something on his own. So it needed more words, I think.

Anyway. I've finished one of my outstanding short stories. I also finished my outlining pass of Mystwatch book 2. It took a lot longer than the "few days" I predicted last update. It took almost all month. After nearly 17 hours of work, I've got another 13k word document full of the chapter outlines and all the things I want to do in each chapter to make the plot and character motivations more cohesive. It's somewhat discouraging, since now I have a TON of work to do on this book that I thought was good enough. But I want to do it. I'm, well, not excited to do it, but I am eager to make it the book it deserves to be. I just needed a little break from editing. I've been in the mood to write, so that's what I'm going to do for a bit.

I thought I needed a break from the Mystwatch world, but the story I really wanted to work on was Shane's. Now that that's done, I have a few other things I want to poke at. My biggest goal for the next month is to wrap up the Witch's Daughter short story I was supposed to publish to the Cafe a year ago come October. It bugs me that I never did finish that story or get it up there. I know I don't owe the Cafe a thing, but I always meant to finish this story and post it, so that's what I'm going to do next. One of these days, I might revisit that character and that world and either put together a collection of stories about her, or just outright write a novel for her. I even found a cool cover on Selfpubbookcovers for it.

Oh! Speaking of covers from that website. I actually bought a cover I've been coveting for awhile. I can't remember if I mentioned this or not, but Rachel talked me into buying the cover for the first Druid Wars book. I've loved it since I first saw it, so I dropped a hundred bucks last month and bought it. Which means, of course, that I need to get cracking on book 2 one of these days. I do have about 100 words written on it, and they're good words. I like the beginning, and I can hear Osiris's voice in my head. So. That will come before too much longer. Maybe spring next year when I get past my winter slump where I tend to do better with editing.

I'm doing better at recognizing my cycles. When fall hits, I am in the mood to write. Late spring to early summer, too. Late summer and the doldrums of winter I do better with editing. So I'm trying to map out the projects I want to work on according to those rhythms. Rachel and I are still meeting online a few times a week to poke at our projects, so I am making slow but steady progress these days. The worst thing for me is to sit down for writing time and have no idea what to work on. That's why I started the writing project spreadsheet all those years ago. Not as a publishing schedule, but as a way to make sure I always had something lined up next. It got overwhelming and detrimental when I started treating it like a deadline thing, where if I got behind, I was never going to make it as a writer. I've actually started using Mywriteclub again to track my projects, for now. Maybe I'll go back to that spreadsheet if Rachel and my writing times continue to go well.

They have been going really well, though. They're low-key, no pressure, celebratory of our progress, no matter how small, but forgiving of the slower, less progressive days. And if we need a break, we don't meet. It's really everything I need in a writing date. And once the world isn't ending anymore, maybe we'll start going places to meet in person. Or maybe not. It's nice to be able to write without pants or a bra and be able to wander to the kitchen for a snack if I need one.

Anyway. That's my update for the last month and my plan for the upcoming month.

Beyond that, I'm thinking I might try to finish the next Sally Prescott adventure, since I've been trying to write at least one of those a year. I had thought about calling that one quits, but I read back through the last few adventures and found myself laughing outloud, excited to read the next one. They're fluffy, fun reads that don't matter. Published under a pen name, I can enjoy the money if people like them but not worry about people refusing to read my other work if they don't. But. That's a long ways down the line. Mystwatch and probably Druid Wars come before SP. I need at least three seasons written before I start publishing them, anyway.

The only other thing I wanted to note is that, right now, I'm no longer committed to having Mystwatch book 3 ready for Christmas. I think what I may tell my siblings is that, I want to self-publish these. To wait for the re-reads and the final book for when they have been through an actual editor. Actually formatted. They've waited this long. What's another year and a half, two years? And they may disagree, and maybe I'll give them cleaned up book 1 and 2 for Christmas and tell them I expect book 3 to be ready sometime next year. I am thinking about editing it in January/February when I'm itching to edit something.

But. That relies on me having book 2 ready by the end of this year so Rachel can read 1 and 2 in order to beta read 3. My plan right now is to do my book 2 fixes once I've gotten over my writing mood. Probably November/December. I think for September and October, I will keep writing. If I get through SP, I might even work on Once We Were Witches or Sleepy Shoals. Or Druid Wars. Or maybe something new!

I'm excited (and a little overwhelmed) to have so many options. But, I know I will be able to keep plugging along, because Rachel and I have a good system. Any fatigue is short lived. We get each other excited about writing, and encourage progress in a relaxed, no-pressure way. We're going to do this. We are doing this!

I'll let you know how it's going once October hits.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

July Update: Foundation work on book two (and beyond)

Here we are. July is drawing to a close, and I'm actually doing a blog post before it does. I would have liked to wait a couple more days, but I know myself. If I wait, I will forget.

So, it's been a very busy month for me, writing wise. I mean, I haven't worked a great number of days, but I have spent more than 15 hours working through the rest of MystWatch book 2 this month. I finally finished my read-through.

That's the good news. The other good news is, there are a lot of really great scenes, in this book. But, there's bad news. Jack was right when he beta read for me. Well, it's not bad that he was right. It's bad that I ignored what he said and didn't fix things. Now, I have to fix those things. And there are a lot of things. An almost 10k word document of notes on things I want to fix. Luckily, a lot of those words are brainstorms on how to fix stuff, and also things I like. Regardless, I have my work cut out for me.

But, I'm ready and willing to do the work. I'm deeply immersed in the world. I have a lot of ideas on how to make this book better. A lot of that is helped out by the fact that I've also finished writing book 3. I can use that to inform some of the things that need to happen (or are left out) in this book. Some of those things are going to require a lot of rewriting, and some of those things only a few sentences here and there. I'm looking at doing a lot of cutting, too. One chapter entirely is heading for the cutting room floor. The book was around 123k when I went into this edit. It's up to almost 125k now, and I haven't even begun the bigger edits. I'm hoping to keep it around 125k, so once I finish this developmental edit, I may have to do some intensive surgery at the language level.

I'm really proud of myself for working so hard this month. Rachel and I have set up a loose writing schedule, where we aim for Tuesdays and Thursdays and one weekend day. The sessions can be an hour or two hours or three hours, depending on the day and how we feel. We've canceled several of them, but also met several times. It's helped us both keep accountable and make progress. It's so laid back and chill, with her. We say hello, we state what we're working on, then settle in for 20 or 30 minutes. And then we check back in, unless we're on a roll. If we can keep that up, we'll both be in good shape.

Of course, I do sometimes write outside of our meetings. And I think someday she will, too. We're setting up a foundation, right now. We've both had our writing homes obliterated by disaster, so we're both starting from the ground up again. Luckily, we're experienced builders. We just have to learn to trust ourselves again, trust that we know what we're doing.

I am a much better writer, now, than I was when I wrote (and edited) this book. The fixes are necessary. There was a time I thought about just doing a copy edit and leaving it, but I can make this book so much better. And I want to. I'm excited to. Which is an awesome feeling. I haven't been excited to write and edit in awhile. Leave it to MystWatch. It always gets me excited.

My plan right now, since I've written up some notes on a couple of plot fixes, is to do another quick read of this book, making notes of what happens in each chapter. I found I had a hard time figuring out where to insert the new plot elements because my old book outline is out of date. So, going through, writing up chapter synopses, and then inserting editing notes for each chapter is what I'm going to work on for the next few days. That will likely bleed into next month. I'm assuming it'll take at least a week to get through this entire thing again. That said, I'm slow at work this week, so I can sneak in some of this work on work time.

Basically, I'm making up what I call an editing treatment. I've already done that for this book once or twice before, but clearly it needs it again. I was tempted to do it for book 1 again, but at this point, I don't think I'm going to do much more editing on that book. Heh. Famous last works.

At any rate. I'm going to keep working on this book until I get sick of it or feel too much fatigue to move on. That could totally happen after my summary pass. I hope not. I'm starting to feel short on months. It's August, in a few days. I'm starting to worry I may not have book 3 ready by Christmas. I have four months and change. Some of that will be time that Rachel is reading the books. At least when I reach that point, I can start to explore other projects.

Other projects are beginning to tantalize me. I've been in the mood to write new fiction for about a month now. I will probably switch to writing brain when I reach capacity on work for book 2. Not sure what I will work on, first, but I admit to being very tempted to dip my toe back into Druid Wars, even after swearing it off last month. I showed Rachel the cover I've been coveting for the first Druid Wars book, and she loves it. So, I told myself, if I can get a good start on book 2, I may allow myself to drop the $100 on it. I've been in love with it for years, and it still hasn't sold. It must be mine.

And that's pretty much it for me. July was mostly work on book 2 of MystWatch. My goal for August is to do the editing treatment and get started on fixes. I hope to keep meeting Rachel online as often as we can, and maybe even keep doing a day here and there on my own. And those times I get to feeling overwhelmed, I'll just remember what Jack told me. One step at a time. Baby steps are still steps, as they say.

One step at a time. One foot in front of the other. I'm going to get through this. One way or another.